Neurodiversity in the legal profession

Neurological differences are an essential form of human diversity, and recognising and supporting this diversity is important to the legal sector.

There is a great deal of variation among human brains and human minds, and this variation is called neurodiversity.

According to Ben Power, senior partner at Springhouse Solicitors, “to ignore the neurodiverse means employers are potentially missing out on a valuable source of highly skilled talent”.

Some estimates suggest 10% of the population are neurodivergent. Traditional recruitment and employment practices can pose a barrier for neurodivergent people. Despite this, a 2018 poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that only one in 10 HR professionals considers neurodiversity in their management practices.

At the Law Society, we want our members to be well equipped to support neurodiversity in the legal profession.

The profession benefits greatly from neurodivergent minds. Neurodivergent individuals are often highly skilled in problem-solving, communications, strategy creation, trouble-shooting, improving processes, and lateral and creative thinking – all qualities essential to the legal profession.

To ensure that talent is not missed and to support neurodivergent solicitors, it is important that talent management is inclusive not only of neurotypical minds but inclusive of all.

Below are a few of the common traits associated with some of the main types of neurodiversity that can be of benefit to employers.

However, it is important to remember that everyone is different and not to generalise or assume.

  • Dyslexia – many people who have dyslexia have strong visual, creative and problem-solving skills
  • Dyspraxia – many people who have dyspraxia are innovative and have strong awareness of others
  • Autism – many people with autism have strong fine-detail processing abilities and have high levels of concentration
  • ADHD – many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have creative abilities, are passionate and are novel thinkers

All of the above conditions are classed as disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. However, like many disabilities, it is not the impairment that disables neurodivergent people, but the barriers placed before them.

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